The provincial government relaxed COVID-19 regulations this week to allow restaurants to reopen for dine-in service, but that doesn’t mean Semiahmoo Peninsula establishments are in a rush to open their doors.
Tuesday, B.C. moved into phase two of the economy restart plan. The phase allows restaurants, retail and personal service businesses, libraries, museums, office spaces and child care facilities to reopen – with strict conditions.
One of the key requirements is that the employer must have documented health and safety protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and those documents must be available to WorkSafe BC, if requested.
Zapoteca Mexican Grill, located on White Rock’s East Beach, has not reopened dine-in service. One reason for that, owner Gonzo Vallarta said, is staff still need to be trained on how to operate during the so-called new normal.
“The training will be the issue. It will take time for everybody to adapt to the new situation,” Vallarta said. “(I) have to be here to make sure the measurements are enforced. I have to train everybody right, or else I won’t have one day off.”
Zapoteca features an open kitchen, and part of the training will be ensuring that cooks are not sharing tools.
“For example, every knife is marked, (all of the) tongs are marked. Everything, like every single spoon that gets used in the kitchen.”
For the past two months, the restaurant has been offering takeout service only. Although he expects to reopen dine-in service in the near future, Vallarta said he has not yet confirmed a date.
“We’ll try to see how it goes, because the takeout is working.”
Similarly, Sawbuck’s Neighbourhood Pub, located at the corner of 16 Avenue and 152 Street, is not rushing to open its doors.
In an emailed announcement to customers, the pub said it’s looking to reopen in mid-June.
“We were ahead of the curve and already ordered many new items to ensure the health safety of our guests (temperature guns, medical grade disinfectant and PPE, sanitation stations etc.). However, even with all that we have done to prepare, we feel that this May 19th open date for pubs and restaurants is a bit soon,” the announcement reads.
3 Dogs Brewing, however, returned to dine-in service on May 19. Co-owner Scott Keddy said they have been “long prepared” for phase two.
“It’s been a lot of work,” he said. “We’ve had to document everything as far as sanitation procedures, what we use, when we use it, how we use it and concentrations. Just in case they come in and want to see the records, we have to have all of those processes in place,” Keddy said.
Keddy said that 3 Dogs, located a block south of Sawbucks, has a laundry list of procedures to keep customers and staff safe, including daily temperature checks of employees, bathroom sanitation records and rotations, a volunteer customer registry program for possible contact tracing, marked and distanced tables, and reduced capacity. He said staff wear gloves and masks when among the customers.
“It looks like a bit of a hockey rink in here, with all the Plexiglas up to keep people separated at the tills and food stations,” Keddy said.
Although 3 Dogs advertised its reopening, there wasn’t a huge rush of people waiting to enter. However, Keddy said, they did reach the new capacity.
“There was a lot of room between tables and the people, and we’ve got arrows on the floor to tell them where to line up and spacing marks.”
For the past several weeks, 3 Dogs has been allowing only one customer in the store at a time and was offering home delivery. They have also been making and donating hand sanitizer to first responders.
With the reopening, the home delivery service has ended and Keddy said customers are understanding of the new safety regulations.
“I think they’re just happy to have a place to get out and go to,” he said.